Looking Glasses and Rabbit Holes

No sooner have we waved goodbye
to dear friends Jill and Martin who’ve been staying with us for a few days than I’m off to Aberystwyth with friend and blogger Preseli Mags to meet up with a group of blogging friends. Jo, Jayne and Jane are here, Mountainear has come down from her small mountain kingdom and Elizabeth has temporarily swapped one set of Welsh hills for another. We’ve ‘known’ each other for almost ten years now since we, and many others, started blogging for a competition in the hope of being picked to write a magazine column. Although none of us won we ended up with a much bigger prize, an enduring online friendship with bloggers across the globe. Today we have a chance to catch up; some of us have met before, others are new faces but those shared virtual glimpses of our lives make conversation easy. There’s lots of laughter, many cups of coffee but also an acknowledgement that real lives - with all the usual trials and tribulations - go on behind the looking glasses of our online personae.

Being a writer sometimes feels like tumbling down a deep, dark rabbit hole whilst holding a small flame and desperately trying to keep it alight. It’s a constant battle against doubt and uncertainty - even when there’s good news. I’m delighted to have written the words to Jake Fitzjones’ beautiful photographs of a stunning Highgate home in this month’s edition of The English Home (November. Issue 141). I’m also thrilled to have been commissioned to write two more features for the magazine, yet as much as I love writing these articles, a freelance writing career is precarious and I’m keenly aware of wanting to do my best for the home owner, the photographer and the magazine. The finished article should appear to be effortless, informative and easy to read, but lots of material has to be gathered and sorted first and all the time the deadline clock keeps ticking. Luckily it’s a challenge I enjoy, for all the tense moments of wondering if all the pieces of the puzzle will ever fit together, and it’s still something of a dream come true to see my name by a feature in a glossy magazine.

All the training for my recent half marathon’s been a useful reminder that goals are achieved one step at a time and I’ve been making slow progress - at last - with fiction. A novella is inching towards completion and I’m 12,000 words into a new novel. Just when I need an incentive to keep going during those times when I feel as if I’m working in the dark, I receive some very welcome news. I’m pleased to say that my novella, Only True in Fairy Tales will be available in paperback from November and, very excitingly, Turning the Tide is one of nine Choc Lit titles being launched by Norwegian publisher, Cappelen Damm AS, as a new mass market series in 2017. And now, it’s back to real life and hard graft!


You describe so well the pleasures and rewards of online friendships. It was lovely to see you again and I struggle to believe that I have only met you twice in the flesh! It feels like a much longer friendship than that. Congratulations on the writing for magazines. I suspect not everyone who dies it is as careful and scrupulous as you are and it really shows in the writing. Good luck with the new book and how exciting to be launched onto international waters!
mountainear said…
Can I echo all that Elizabeth has said above - both on online friendship and your hard earned achievements. I look forward to another book...or even a story, so keep writing!
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you so much Elizabeth and Mountainear, it was really lovely - and easy - to catch up. As you say, Elizabeth, it does feel as we've been friends for far longer than a couple of real life meetings would allow - we've been lucky, haven't we? And thank you both too for your kind comments about and encouragement with the writing. xx
Frances said…
Chris, here I am reading this post from you, and thinking of what sorts of messages I would love to convey to those folks you were going to meet...from our earliest blogging days.

And now....I realize that you all have already met. I do envy you all that opportunity. I so hope that some photographs might have been taken, and that you will not be the only one to post a report. I'll admit that I can no longer actually remember when it was that I first made tentative steps into blogging as a commenter.

It's grand that your novel is now being translated for another market. Wow! I do want to read the novella, and know that you will be soon telling us about other great stories being released from your talented creative mind.

I've recently met up with a few writer friends and it helps to know that you're not the only one who struggles sometimes in this writing world. Thankfully the 'ups' make up for most of the 'down' days.

Huge congratulations about your book news, exciting!
Patsy said…
It doesn't seem that our confidence levels are very closely reated to our talents or how well we're doing. Some of the best and most successful writers seem to have the worst doubts.
Irish Eyes said…
Wow, and haven't you brought back memories of those early days when we were all competing for that prize...I shocked myself the other day when I found an old diary and discovered that I wrote my first blog on 6 December, 2006. I was absolutely scared stiff and wondering what would I write, and what would I call the blog. The View from the Kitchen Window as it was then was born and I wrote about what I know best, the wildlife in the garden. Still here, still writing - though mostly in my mind these days, but at least now the wood burning stove, long threatened, is in situ, the desk is realigned to get maximum access to the Internet [fingers crossed] and I hope to be around more often.

I realise that I miss out so much on all the lovely blogs of all those of us who started "life" in '06. I would have loved to have met up with everyone, perhaps one day Dublin could be a venue. Love this blog and thank you, to you, for the encouragement you give the rest of us. Knowing we all can have blank moments, run out of time to get things written etc., helps encourage us all. Off now for a catch up; and hopefully put something up in the next day or two. The facilities having been sorted, it is now time is the thief of effort. We're doing up the kitchen - Himself is happy...I'm retiring to the study and we'll see what comes of that!
lyn anderson said…
I been always wanted to write but I have doubt that maybe I wont be any good at it.

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